Prior to the nineteenth century, schools of pharmacy trained pharmacists and physicians how to prepare medicinal remedies from natural organic products or inorganic materials.
Herbal medications and folk remedies dating back to ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Asian societies were administered without any knowledge of their biological mechanism of action.
Molecular modeling software depicts three-dimensional images of a chemical.
Mathematical operations adjust the positions of the atoms in the molecule in an attempt to accurately portray the size and shape of the drug, and the location of any charged groups.
Chemists can vary the atoms or groups within the model and predict the effect the transformation has on the molecular properties of the drug. Advances in technology have made it possible for medicinal chemists to synthesize a vast number of compounds in a relatively short time, a process referred to as combinatorial chemistry.
In this technique, one part of a molecule is maintained, as different chemical groups are attached to its molecular framework to produce a series of similar molecules with distinct structural variations.
Lead optimization involves chemical modifications to the lead compound to produce a more potent drug, or one with fewer or decreased adverse effects.
Computers have transformed the drug discovery process.
In vitro testing involves biological assays outside a living system.
For example, if the desired effect of a drug is to inhibit a particular enzyme, the enzyme can be isolated from an organ and studied in a test tube.
To develop a drug to target a specific disease, researchers try to understand the biological mechanism responsible for that condition.